All Star 2 - 2017

All Star 2 Family Conference 2017 Saturday, July 8 - Saturday, July 15, 2017

Family-friendly, creative, and diverse, All Star 2 is a week that can be as active or relaxing (or both!) as you’d like it to be. Opportunities abound for both adults and children to make or enjoy music and art; dive into a game of baseball, volleyball, or tennis; explore the harbor by rowboat or kayak; investigate the island’s history or marine and bird life; play games; join together in the candle-lit stone chapel; take a morning polar bear dip or a yoga break; bring your talents to the stage on stunt night or at the musicale; watch the sunset at a music-laden marshmallow roast; engage in the morning lecture series or afternoon talks on the rocks; partake in the many other All Star 2 traditions; or just settle into a porch rocker to talk with friends new and old or read a good book. There are few demands but many temptations, and even more opportunities to create the kind of lasting friendships that continually delight New Shoalers and keep Old Shoalers coming back for years.

Read more about Star Island in the March-April 2017 issue of Harvard Magazine or in this 2012 article from the Boston Globe!

Registration is Open!

As of April, All Star 2 is fully booked and has an extensive wait list. You can still apply, but the likelihood of acceptance of any new registrations at this point is very slim. We strongly encourage you to consider applying to another Star Island conference (there are many!) - and please come back to this page next year and apply to All Star 2!

Your 2017 Conference Chairs: Bill Knox and Margot Fleischman

Theme of the Week: The Intimate Universe

Children's Program

Experienced and dedicated program staff guide children - from newborns to high-school students - through their week. Grouped by age, children gather with their leaders for an hour and a half every morning and most afternoons. Together, they’ll visit the art barn to delve into guided art projects, investigate island mysteries and lore, row to nearby Smuttynose, spend lots of time outdoors, and - among many other activities - explore the marine lab’s touch and temporary holding tanks that showcase the surrounding sea life.

Care is taken to help each group bond and each child prosper. Highlights include the Children’s Stunt Show, where kids take to the stage to perform skits and songs before an enthusiastic audience, and the Great People Hunt, an island-wide, highly spirited game of hide and seek that involves all ages.

Each group has its own meeting space and two leaders. Before you arrive on Star, your child’s leaders will send a welcome letter noting any special requests for the week. Recent high school graduates can opt to participate in the senior-teen group.

A message from Bill and Margot...Welcome to the 2017 All Star 2 Conference webpage! We are honored to be your conference chairs for 2017. We have been attending All Star 2 since 2010 with our two children, Giuliana and Theo, who are now both Senior Teens (OMG!). We originally hail from Pennsylvania and Maine, but are now proud to call Massachusetts our home and to be part of the growing Bedford, MA delegation to All Star 2.

Planning for our week has been so much fun, and has given us the chance to reconnect with an old college friend, Michelle Thaller, who will be our speaker. We are also delighted that Joe Cleveland has agreed to return for a second year as Minister of the Week. It's going to be a great week and we hope you can join us. You can find more information on the programs and how to register below. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you on the Dock!

Stories of Connection and Context from the Lives of the Stars to Life Outside the Earth

So many people assume that the study of astronomy and the larger universe is the story of things that are far away from us, both in distance and in time. The universe began over 13 billion years ago; even the nearest stars are many trillions of miles away. It also seems to be a tale of loneliness; in an unimaginably vast universe, we have yet to find anyone out there to share our reality and give our existence context. But this vision of a distant and empty universe could not be farther from our human experience. Our bodies are largely made of water, a prime component of which was formed during the first three minutes of existence, when the temperature of the universe was many millions of degrees. Our blood is red thanks to a star dozens or hundreds of times the mass of the Sun that died billions of years ago. That is the only way the universe has to make the hydrogen atoms in water, or the iron atom in our blood. Our world is one among many thousands of planets that we now study, and even in our own solar system, there are half a dozen worlds, at least, that may have life on them today. Indeed, the story of the universe is a story of richness and connection, and this news comes at the perfect time in history, when we must draw together as a species and a planet to take responsibility for our future.

About the Speaker: Dr. Michelle Thaller

Dr. Michelle Thaller is the Deputy Director of Science for Communication at NASA Headquarters. Michelle has a Bachelor’s in astrophysics from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. After a post-doctoral research fellowship at Caltech, Michelle became particularly interested in public outreach and science communication and served as the public outreach lead for the Spitzer Space Telescope at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory before moving to Goddard Space Flight Center, where she was the Assistant Director of Science for Communications for 6 years. Michelle is one of the regular hosts of Discovery Science Channel’s “How the Universe Works,” and also hosts the podcast “Orbital Path” on public radio. She has received several high profile awards for on-line science journalism and science leadership. In her current role, Michelle represents all of NASA’s science themes, from Earth science and climate change, the Sun and space weather, solar system exploration, all the way out to cosmology and the deep universe.

Minister of the Week: The Rev. Joseph Cleveland

Music Director: The Rev. Michael Leuchtenberger

Rev. Joe Cleveland has been serving the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs since 2014. A graduate of Andover Newton Theological School, he was Chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Brookline, MA, served as Interim Minister in the Fellowship of Central Michigan, interned at The First Parish in Bedford, MA, taught literature and writing in several colleges, and founded the non-profit musical organization, The Folkus Project, to bring folk and acoustic music to the Syracuse, NY community.As a banjo- and guitar-playing musician, music is one of the ways Joe explores life’s questions and creates a deeper sense of community. He is also fascinated by science (he began college as a physics major) and poetry.

Joe served as Minister of the Week for the All Star 2 Conference in 2016, and we are delighted to welcome him and his wife Kristin back to Star Island!

Michael Leuchtenberger is returning for his fourth year as Music Director for All Star 2. Although we know him as a musician, Michael has served the Unitarian Universalist Church of Concord, NH as their minister since 2010. Michael was born in Bremen, Germany, and lived in the Black Forest and the Rhine Valley before spending the last two years of high school at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. Michael came to the U.S. for college and graduated from Brown University with a double major in Chemistry and Environmental Studies in 1992. After many years as an consultant, Michael began to explore the ministry by taking classes at United Theological Seminary, and in 2006, Michael moved to Chicago where he received his Masters of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theology School in 2010. Michael lives in Bow, NH with his sons Daniel and Noah. In his spare time he is passionate about coaching soccer, enjoys running, loves to sing, hike, and travel. He is always looking for an excuse to entertain people at his home, and, as he puts it, "moonlights" as our choir director. We are so happy to have him back!

Registration, Fees, and Logistics

As of April, All Star 2 is fully booked and has an extensive wait list. You can still apply, but the likelihood of acceptance of any new registrations at this point is very slim. We strongly encourage you to consider applying to another Star Island conference (there are many!) - and please come back to this page next year and apply to All Star 2!

Star Island 2017 conference registration page

The conference fee is $100 per adult (age 18 as of July 8, 2017) and $85 per child (age 0 to 18)—with a maximum of $370 per family.

A room and board deposit of $200 for each adult or child who will be 6 years of age or over as of July 8, 2017 is due with registration. Each 18+ child out of high school must register separately. Ten dollars of each individual’s conference fee will be donated to the Ginny Levine Financial Aid Fund (up to $40 per family). Additional donations to this financial aid fund are welcome. The room and board deposit and conference fee are refundable until Friday, June 9, 2017. All correspondence will be sent via email, so please remember to include your email address when registering.

Registrar contact information:

Ron Cordes

3 Jeffrey Circle

Bedford, MA 01730


Notifications: All notifications (including acceptance letters, communications about wait lists and volunteer jobs, and the "boat letter" that will give you all the necessary information for the week) will be sent via email, so don't forget to include your email address on your registration form. If you do not have an email address, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your registration and we will snail mail the letters to you.

Financial aid: Financial assistance is available to individuals with need through the The Ginny Levine Financial Aid Fund. For information and an application, click here or contact All inquiries and awards are kept confidential.

Boat schedule: Depart Portsmouth, N.H. aboard the Thomas Laighton on Saturday, July 8, at 2:25 PM. Depart Star on Saturday, July 15, at 8:20 AM. (Times subject to change - the boat letter has all the details.)

T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Pint Glasses, and Wine Glasses!

Pint glasses with our logo will be offered for sale on the island during Social Hour, along with (new this year!) stemless wine glasses with our logo. Prices this year will be $10.

And T-shirt and sweatshirt information is here!

See the catalog of options, and then download your order form and send it to by JUNE 16!

Information for Shoalers (conference attendees)

Behind the Scenes

Further Reading/Viewing Recommendations from Michelle

TED talks:

Videos of Michelle

Pretty much all the images I showed you are available on these sites:

Want to try your hand at finding exoplanets? This was the site that discovered Tabby’s Star

This is another great app that tracks our latest news releases and visualizations:

This is that video of the Sun I showed:

Mars videos:

The video of what’s really causing climate change:

Most of the videos I showed can be found on these sites: